Here’s To Commitment

By Jean Matthew Hall

Have you ever heard someone singing at a wedding or a party, perhaps at church, and thought, “He’s so talented! He should be on the road singing professionally, selling CDs, and signing autographs.” But the truth is that it takes a lot more than talent to be a professional musician.

It takes commitment—total stay-up-late-get-up-early-commitment. To become rich and famous as a musician, or even to earn a livelihood as a musician, it takes hard-line dedication not only to music, but to several critical things.

And guess what. The same is true of becoming a professional author.

  • Becoming a professional takes commitment to achieving goals. The first step toward achieving those goals is setting them. Integral to setting goals is making sure they are measurable and achievable. They can be measured in dollars; hours, weeks, months or years; pages or word counts; “followers” and “friends”; the number of submissions or contracts…   you get the idea.
  • Becoming a professional takes commitment to craft. To learning how to accomplish hundreds of specific skills related to professional writing. It means dedication to improving everything I do as relatedto writing.
  • Becoming a professional takes commitment to promotion. I HATE this part. Don’t you? But success in publishing depends on it.
  • Becoming a professional takes commitment to sacrifice. Yep. We have to sacrifice some good things to accomplish great things. And succeeding in an industry as competitive as publishing means devoting time that we could spend on other activities (or people) to writing, research, education, submission and promotion.
  • Becoming a professional takes commitment to vulnerability. These scratchings we put to paper and screen come out of our minds, our hearts, our souls. We make ourselves vulnerable each time  we put up a blog post, send an email submission or plaster a stamp to a big brown envelope.
  • Becoming a professional takes commitment to writing. What we learn about craft we must put into practice.  Writing–that’s what professional writers do.

When I compare what I do as a writer to these standards I see how really far I am from becoming a professional. But…I also see that I’m inching my way closer with each year, each conference, each page, and each big brown envelope.

Here’s to success for each of us as writers and authors!

Here’s to commitment!

Jean
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6 thoughts on “Here’s To Commitment

  1. Thanks so much for this post, Jean. It’s motivating as I sit down to the computer on my kids’ first full day of school. Just what I need to get me workingthis year.

  2. Words of wisdom, my friend.

    How, I wonder, does one slay the dragons of fear and self-doubt? It is too easy, at times, to become convinced that the goal is unattainable. To question the point of all that effort. I suppose that staying focused and committed is the best way to overcome those beasties. I mean, if I’m working, working, working–I won’t have *time* to listen to those insidious thoughts, right?

    I used to think that not being able to work was a good thing: look at all the time I’ll have to write and read and take pictures and make crafts and . . . But I get lost in all this time. Somehow I need to find the kind of incentive that comes with last-minute panics–without the last-minute crunches or the panics. Hmmmmmm. Sounds like a topic for further exploration. Say, in my next post?

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